November 23, 2009


Finkel, David, The Good Soldiers (New York: Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) (“Meanwhile, in other parts of Fort Riley, the other soldiers were getting ready, too. Finishing wills. Designating powers of attorney. Working their way down final medical checklists. Hearing. Heart rate. Blood pressure. Blood type. They went to health briefings and were told: Wash your hands. Drink bottled water. Wear cotton underwear. Watch out for rats. They put on their body armor and stood outside in a zero-degree wind chill for inspection and were told that the straps weren’t tight enough, the ceramic plates intended to stop high-powered sniper bullets were an inch off, their compression bandages and tourniquets were stored in the wrong place, they were effectively dead men. They went to a briefing on stress management and suicide prevention and were told by a chaplain, ‘This is important. If you are not ready to die, you need to get there. If you are not ready to die, you need to be. If you are not ready to see your friends die, you need to be.’ “ Id. at 12. “‘There’s only so many ways to polish a turd,’ Cummings said. . . .” Id. at 127.).